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Breast Cancer and Running: Meghan’s Story

runner diagnosed with breast cancer
Meghan (in glasses) celebrating a second-place, age-group with sister #4 at the Sunriver Half Marathon.

During this week, our Motherlode of Miles week that benefits the Donna Foundation, we are profiling four #motherrunners whose lives have been changed by breast cancer; hopefully the perspective and ideas they share will benefit others who are going through similar situations.

You've already heard from Heidi and Keli. Today, we're headed out to Portland, Oregon to meet Meghan Zonich, a runner and mother of two kids (ages 13 + 11) who was just recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

These posts are in their own words; they will also be guests on the AMR podcast at the end of this week.

Date of Diagnosis: Monday, August 12th, 2019. I had an ultrasound and biopsy, and the radiologist asked if someone was in the waiting room with me. They don't ask you that to tell you everything's fine. I got the official call from my GYN Wednesday, August 14th and had my first oncologist meeting Thursday, August 15th.

Type of Breast Cancer: Stage 2 Ductal carcinoma Her2+, ER+, Grade 3, 6 rounds of Chemo (every three weeks), followed by surgery (TBD if it will be a lumpectomy or full mastectomy) and radiation.

Running through it: My A goal marathon race, which was on September 15, was put on hold; major suckage since I was primed for a Boston Qualifier. Luckily I was diagnosed four weeks before the marathon, so I headed into treatment in killer shape! I have kept a run streak going since my diagnosi. On the terrible post-chemo days I've settled for a mile walk but I've been outside on the move daily.

I am hoping to rock the Spokane Half Marathon on October 13th, but I am open to a 10K if that feels better.

runner diagnosed with breast cancer
Meghan and her cute fam.

How breast cancer changed her running perspective: With a strong family history of heart disease, I thought I was in the clear with running. Cancer didn't even cross my mind. This experience has solidified my belief in regular exercise, clean diet, and paying attention to your body.

I had a mammogram in March, which indicated nothing abnormal. I found my tumor in the shower in July. I could have easily believed my sisters who assumed it was a clogged sweat gland. Thankfully I listened to the little voice that said to check things out.

My advice: Get regular checkups and pay attention! Mammograms are not 100% at finding everything; if you have dense tissue request an ultrasound.

Best thing she is doing for herself during treatment: My husband's employer has provided us with a weekly house cleaner and meal prep helper, which have been amazing!

We are so very blessed and fortunate to have the help and support of our family and friends. As a substitute teacher I am able to set my schedule, and I'm taking a lot of time off to handle the tough days.

Regular sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber have been great for recovery after treatments. Plus, my daily runs (sometimes walks) have been great for keeping my energy up and head clear.

runner diagnosed with breast cancer
Shaved in solidarity.

Best thing others are doing for her during treatment: At a recent family event, my daughter gathered notes of encouragement and support. She leaves them on my pillow every few days.

My hair started falling out 2 weeks after round 1, and my 13-year-old son shaved his head with me.

My husband's job is currently very flexible. They allow him to work from home most days and attend Chemo treatments, which has been helpful. For treatment days, my mom knit me a beautiful cozy blanket.

7 responses to “Breast Cancer and Running: Meghan’s Story

  1. My thoughts are with you Meghan as you continue ue in your journey. Like I tell so many…its not easy but its doable. Keep up that positive attitude and remember you are stronger than cancer

  2. Stay strong sister! Running really helped me recover from my bilateral mastectomy 2 years ago and even ran my first marathon this year and qualified for Boston! Although I missed the darn cutoff by 33 sec, I’m still thrilled I was even able to do it and no one can take that away from me! You’ll get yours too and are inspiring many others in your journey! Maybe we’ll see each other in 2021! Keep moving forward!

  3. So very glad you did not listen to me (this one time!) and my armchair analysis of what I thought was a clogged sweat gland. Early detection leads to successful outcomes. We are so proud of you! Run, Meghan, Run!

  4. Your strength and courage just shine through. Your determination to get through to the other side of this as your strong self is really inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

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